Many believe the move by the European Union to give greater consideration to vaccines made within the bloc is the cause of the latest AstraZeneca vaccine export suspension.
The European Union met on Thursday to consider giving member states greater scope to block vaccines being exported outside the bloc, much of which is struggling to bring infections down and ramp up immunisation campaigns.
It is not known how long the suspension will last, but health watchers say the development is likely to delay the delivery of the nation’s 2nd batch of vaccine supplies expected around the end of March and early April.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine is cheaper and easier to transport and many middle and low income countries can have subscribed to the shots.
The EU has accused the AstraZeneca drugmaker of over-selling its vaccine and unfairly favouring Britain, – a charge denied by the company.
Under the COVAX Facility sharing scheme backed by the World Health Organisation, Nigeria was allocated 16 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine out of which it received 3.92 million doses in the first allocation. 42 million doses are still expected by the federal government through the African Unio’s African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team.
The COVAX Facility is expected to deliver around 90 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Africa in the first quarter of 2021 and has committed to provide 600 million doses by end-2021 to cover 20 per cent of the population.